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Freedom is more than a word. It is a 
deeply cherished belief in the essential im- 
portance of the person and in the supremacy 
of a society which respects and safeguards 
the eminent dignity and integrity of per- 
sonality. 

Freedom is a creative spirit that summons 
the energies of all men to the task of build- 
ing the kind of community, the kind of na- 
tion, the kind of world in which they want 
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men, women, and children are encouraged 
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spiritually — so that they may fulfill the great 
promise of their inner potential. 

But freedom is more than a belief or a 
dream. Freedom is also a process; as such 
it is concerned with means as with ends, 
seeking through democratic methods to 
create the good society. 

The education of free men to understand 
their proper role in a free society is basic to 
such a process. To this task the FREEDOM 
PAMPHLET Series is dedicated. 



1 



DANGER 

IN 

DISCORD 




Origins of Aitf-Scmtfisn) in the United States 



by 



OSCAR and MARY F. HANDLIN 



A 



Printed in the United State* of America 



Copyright— 1948, ANTS-DEPAMAT[ON LEAGUE OF B'NAI B'XUTH 



FREEDOM PAMPHLETS are edited by Ffqnk N. Trager, 
National Program Director of the Anti-De£amation League 
with the assistance of Harold Schiff and Adele Liederman. 



^^^^^^m 






o 



^4// j'tfwr strength Is in your union. 
Alt your danger is in discord; 
Therefore be at peace henceforward, 
And as brothers live together. 

—HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 

(The Song of Hiawatha) 



^b 




University of Toxai 

Austin, T'-v,, s 



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



Oscar Handlin received his training in history at Harvard 
University where he is now Assistant Professor of Social 
Science. He is the author of "Boston's Immigrants" and of 
numerous articles, specializing in the problems of American 
ethnic groups. Mary Flug Handlin studied political science 
at Columbia University and at the London School of Eco- 
nomics. The Handlins have collaborated extensively in 
writing for the learned journals and, in 1947, published 
Commonwealth: a Study of the Role of Government in 
American Economy, under the auspices of the Social Science 
Research Council. 



590890 




OS 

o 



INTRODUCTION 



HE manifestations of intolerance and prejudice are 
everywhere the same. Yet the underlying factors that pro- 
duce those conditions may differ significantly. 

In one sense, the causes of prejudice He in the nature of 
the personality of the man who holds the prejudice. But they 
are also socially determined. Whether the impulses that 
result in prejudiced behavior shall find expression or not, the 
form in which they will show themselves, and the object upon 
which they will fix are products of the time and place in 
which the individual lives. 

On the surface there are many similarities between the 
forces that produced anti-Semitism in Europe and those 
which have been operative in the United States. But the 
differences are even more important than the similarities. 

The New World had no medieval past from which to 
inherit a tradition of hostility to the Jews. By the time large 
numbers of such people appeared in America there were no 
invidious legal disabilities to mark out an inferior status for 
them. Most important of all, the prejudiced here have had 
to struggle against an important article in the American 
creed, the faith that the individual was to be judged, and to 
be treated, on the basis of his own worth, and not in terms 
of his status, class, race, or religion. 



In such inhospitable soil, some varieties of anti-Semitism 
have, in recent years, struck tenuous roots. The nature of 
their growth is certainly worth understanding. It is impor- 
tant to recognize the unfavorable conditions in the American 
environment that nurtured these forms of prejudice. It is 
equally important to know the favorable conditions that have 
kept them from spreading. To emphasize the dark aspects 
would distort the view of the whole; for in the United States, 
social and economic circumstances have kept alive a tradi- 
tion of liberty and equality, a tradition which has generally 
left little room for anti-Semitic prejudices. 

In the United States, the Jews are one of many ethnic 
groups which together participate in the nation's culture. 
When intolerance raises its head, it rarely discriminates as 
to targets. Rather, it strikes out blindly against all who are 
presumed to differ from the arbitrary standards it sets for 
itself. Anti-Semitism then must be regarded as one of the 
forms, in itself complex, in which bigotry expresses itself in 
the United States. Only by first understanding how intoler- 
ance in general develops in this country will we understand 
why that intolerance, from time to time, focuses upon the 
Tews. 




X HE first two centuries of American experience were 
almost completely free of expressions of hostility to the 
Jews. This favorable condition grew out of the high place 
held by them in American society and out of the Christian 
conception of the mission of Israel, widely accepted in the 
United States. 

As late as 1800 there were only a few thousand Jews scat- 
tered through the American cities. Their role as merchants 
and the general cosmopolitan air of the towns in which they 
lived brought them into close, friendly contact, on equal 
terms, with their neighbors. In this social environment there 
was little room for prejudice. 

Furthermore, the Christian idea that a remnant of Israel 
would bear witness to the truth of the gospels also contrib- 
uted to that favorable position. In the United States there 
had always been a pronounced millennial feeling, a feeling 
that the day of final judgment was soon approaching. In the 
process of salvation, the Jews were to play an important role; 
their conversion would herald the great day. Naturally they 
were to be treated in such a manner as would hasten their 
redemption. 

More generally, among Americans, both Jewish and Chris- 
tian, veneration for the Bible created respect for the people 
of the Book. The prevailing attitude toward the Jews early 



in the nineteenth century was set down by John Adams: 

They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited 
this Earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a 
Bauble in comparison of the Jews. They have given 
Religion to three quarters of the Globe and have influ- 
enced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily 
than any other Nation ancient or modern. 
The only problems in the relations of Jews with their 
neighbors were those that survived from the colonial and 
English connection of church with state. In some places an 
established religion was supported by taxpayers' fundsj else- 
where religious oaths were prerequisites to voting and to 
holding office. Atheists, Jews, Catholics and even some 
Protestant sects were thus discriminated against. 

But already in the eighteenth century, the American at- 
mosphere was inhospitable to such anachronistic relics. After 
1700 the freedom to worship was almost everywhere recog- 
nized; and, year after year, the trends toward religious lib- 
eralism grew ever more pronounced. 

The revolutionary movement that culminated in Inde- 
pendence also stressed individual rights, including the right 
to religious equality. Virginia took the lead in this respect, 
and its example was soon followed by the other states and hy 
the federal government. 

The same movement necessarily gave an impetus to the 
severance of the ties between church and state in such mat- 
ters as support of religious activities by public funds and 
clerical control over education. By the third decade of the 
nineteenth century, the campaign for public education sep- 
arated from sectarian religious controls had been wonj every- 
where, then, men of all beliefs stood on an equal footing in 
the eyes of the law. The struggle for liberty and freedom 
had given Jews, Catholics, and dissenting Protestants the 
same rights as other American citizens. 



to 




A PEOPLE COMING INTO BEING 



HE attitude toward the Jews changed as the nineteenth 
century advanced, but was then no less favorable than it had 
been earlier. In fact, it would be more proper to say that 
there really was no attitude toward the Jews as such in this 
period. 

Americans then thought of themselves as a new folk. They 
did not regard themselves simply as descendants of one or 
another of the old nations, but rather as a people that was 
just coming into being. In the process of evolution, all sorts 
of men were expected to join on equal terms. Ralph Waldo 
Emerson hoped that the "Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, 
and Cossacks, and all the European tribes," would construct 
here a new race, uniting the best qualities of all the old. The 
Jews were one of many strains that would enter into the 
"smelting pot" to contribute to the new and finer culture. 

There was some discussion of such questions as the pro- 
priety of holding public school sessions on Saturday. But 
there was no acrimony over the subject. If there were any 
traces of anti-Semitic prejudices in this period, they were in 
the realm of the idiomatic slur, figures of speech that de- 
scribed the supposed characteristics of a whole people. Jews, 
like Yankees, were identified as pedlars, and were often en- 



11 



University ol faff 
Austin, Texas 



dowed, as a group, with the Yankee pedlars' traits. Every 
other distinctive group had a similar verbal reputation to 
live down — the drunken Irishmen, the stingy Germans, the 
haughty Southerners, the uncouth Westerners. 

Such characterizations, heedless though they were, could 
nevertheless become dangerous. The Irish reputation proved 
a convenient tool in the hands of Know-Nothing agitators. 
Similarly, in the heat of the Civil War, General Grant or- 
dered Jewish traders away from the Union lines in terms 
that reflected upon their loyalty and honesty. Although the 
command was almost at once rescinded, it illustrated the 
strength of the impression left by these slurs. 

Such incidents were significant for the habits of mind 
they revealed. But they were more often the products of 
lazy minds than of intention to discriminate. So, William 
Dean Howells planned to make one of the unpleasant char- 
acters in The Rise of Silas Lapham a Jew, but changed his 
plan when the implications of such a step were called to his 
attention. 

Indeed this situation remained the same as long as the 
Jews were regarded merely as communicants of another 
American religion. In view of the prevailing latitudinarian- 
ism, the attitude that any religion that taught good morals 
was good, there could be no overt discrimination on religious 
grounds without disturbing the delicate balance among all 
the sects in the United States. 



ORIGINS OF AMERICAN RACISM 



12 



genuine threat to the security of America's Jews 
came only with the development of a new conception of race 
that could, under the pressure of changing economic and 
social conditions, become the vehicle of bitter group hatreds. 
The conception that men were divided into breeds that were 
biologically different and incapable of fusion ran counter 
both to the Christian doctrine of the brotherhood of man and 
to the American ideal of nationality as a product of the amal- 
gamation of peoples, each contributing their distinctive part 
to the whole. 

Yet, if it clashed with two basic articles of the American 
creed, the new notion "nevertheless had important sources of 
strength in the American environment. The strains that re- 
sulted from the growth of industry and of cities, from the 
venture into imperialism, sometimes tempted men to think 
in terms of racial differences, of inferior and superior peoples. 
And while racist ideas originally sprouted without reference 
to the Jews, they were quickly applied to them. 

The Color Line, Racist expressions had been rare in the 
first two centuries of settlement in the United States. People 
of European ancestry were, of course, then conscious of dif- 
ferences between themselves and the Indians and Negroes. 
But such differences were not regarded as racial, that is, as 
incapable of modification through cultural contacts and 

13 

59NG30 



through intermarriage with the Whites- Even at the opening 
of the nineteenth century, slaveholders like Thomas Jeffer- 
son thought of the Negro problem simply as an economic 
one that would ultimately be solved by the gradual libera- 
tion of the bondsmen* 

The first denials of human brotherhood came in the South. 
Even before the Civil War, the apologists for slavery faced 
a terrible dilemma. Once the northern abolitionists began to 
criticize the institution on moral grounds, the slaveholders 
had to find a moral defense or else witness the crumbling of 
the labor system on which their society rested. 

The defense came in the argument that the Negroes were 
somehow inherently different, inferior, and that they there- 
fore did not deserve to be treated as free men. George Fitz- 
hugh, a spokesman for the South, attempted to popularize 
the notion that the "Blacks" were not human beings at all. 

After the Civil War, the old legal basis for differentiation 
between colored and white people was gone; yet the compul- 
sion for finding some other basis of separation was more pro- 
nounced. In the crisis of reconstruction, the ruling groups 
attempted to stay the dissolution of the old order by rallying 
Whites of all classes against the Negroes. Constant repeti- 
tion spread the idea that color was a mark of innate differ- 
ence. Meanwhile Black Codes established a new legal basis 
for segregation and for discriminatory treatment that ac- 
quired a deep hold on the mind of the South. 

The virus was not confined to a single region. The South 
was itself a minority; for many years it was a subject minor- 
ity policed by federal troops. To preserve their peculiar in- 
stitution, the spokesmen of the section had to persuade the 
rest of the nation that they were right. In Congress, in the 
courts, in politics, and in the less formal channels through 
which opinion is molded, Southerners used the doctrine of 



14 






race to fight the old abolitionist, humanitarian doctrine of 
equality. 

They succeeded in getting the rest of the country pas- 
sively to agree that the former slave states could maintain 
their traditional social system by relegating the Negroes to 
a status of permanently inferior, second-class citizenship. A 
long line of judicial decisions culminating in the case of 
Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 nullified the intent of the Four- 
teenth Amendment and bestowed constitutional blessings on 
the whole pattern of segregation. 

Even more significant, the long years of debate made 
Americans familiar with ideas which would earlier have 
seemed utterly outlandish. Whether they agreed with the 
Southerners or not, people became accustomed to thinking 
in terms of race. Soon it was clear that the arguments de- 
veloped against the Negroes could easily be applied to other 
groups. 

Thus, in the succession of crises on the Pacific Coast, the 
Orientals became the butt of racist opposition. First, dis- 
contented workingmen participated in a long, violent strug- 
gle that ultimately led to the stoppage of all Chinese immi- 
gration after 1882. A quarter of a century later, discredited 
politicians, attempting to divert public attention from their 
own misdeeds, stirred up a brew of anti- Japanese hatred, the 
poisonous effects of which lasted long after the corrupt poli- 
ticians were themselves forgotten. 

It is important to note that White immigrants were prom- 
inently engaged in both the anti-Chinese and the anti-Japan- 
ese movements. In those innocent years it was possible to 
think of limiting prejudice to a single racial trait, color. But 
the very same years saw the spread of forces that would give 
the conception a far wider application. 

What Kind of People Shall Americans Be? At the open- 



15 



tag of the twentieth century, racist ideas, even in the narrow- 
application, were by no means accepted by all or by a major- 
ity of the American people. But discussion within the frame* 
work of racist ideas became more frequent. The Spanish- 
American War, for instance, had made an imperialist power 
of the United States and had brought it into a new kind of 
contact with strangers. In the debate over that question 
there were some who justified the withholding of citizenship 
from the people of the colonies on the ground that they 
were inferior and not fit to use the privilege. 

There were, in similar vein, men who asserted that not 
everyone was equally capable of becoming an American. 
Prescott Hall and the Immigration Restriction League saw 
the face of the changing country and did not like what they 
saw. The new industrialism and monster cities had distorted 
the old standards, had undermined the old values. Unwilling 
to recognize the true sources for these changes they, in 
scape-goat fashion, blamed the newcomers who, they 
charged, lowered the rates of wages, congregated in slums, 
and perverted, instead of becoming assimilated to, the native 
institutions. 

These conditions appeared in the wake of industrializa- 
tion in every country, whether it encouraged immigration or 
not. But the restrictionists failed to recognize that fact. 
Reluctant or unable to cope with the fundamentals of the 
new situation, they urged, instead, that the United States 
choose among those who knocked at the gates of the New 
World. Instead of admitting all indiscriminately, they 
wished the nation to select the stocks that could best be 
grafted on to the "original American tree." 

After 1900, a determined campaign for the reversal of 
the traditional American attitude of free immigration gained 
currency. The campaign shifted its sights from time to 



f 





time. But its ultimate objective remained the same: limita- 
tion of admission to the United States to people closely simi- 
lar to the Anglo-Saxon breed that was assumed to be respon- 
sible for American growth. 

The campaign gained the support of an influential sector 
of American labor. It was not that labor supported giving 
preference to one group of immigrants over another, but 
that the unions were opposed to immigration in general and 
especially to immigration of unskilled labor. They opposed 
it on the false theory that immigrant labor depressed wage 
levels and was difficult to organize. 

Organized labor, although it included among its members 
large numbers of persons of immigrant stock, joined with 
the American Legion and other < 'protectionists" in support- 
ing the restrictive policy legislated in 1924. It was not until 
after the close of World War II that organized labor, and 
later the American Legion, revised their stands and came 
out in support of the admission of substantial numbers of dis- 
placed persons to the United States. 

The arguments used to prove the necessity of closing the 
gates have remained with us to this day. To show that fur- 
ther immigration was undesirable, the restrictionist had to 
fly in the face of history; after all, America was the product 
of immigration. The proponents of the new policy accom- 
plished that feat by arguing that the immigrants then apply- 
ing for admission were different in kind, and inferior to, 
those who had come in earlier. The iold immigrants, they 
mistakenly asserted, were northwestern, blond, Teutonic, 
Protestant; the new, southeastern, dark, Slavic-Latin, Semi- 
tic, and non-Protestant. 

The Jews, then migrating in large numbers, were usually 
comprehended in the general' condemnation of the "new" 
immigrants. So, William Z. Ripley, a liberal social scientist, 



16 



17 



shivered at the thought of the flood of Polish-Jewish human 
beings which threatened to inundate the country* On the 
other hand, N. S. Shaler, a restrictionist geologist, would 
have admitted the Jews, reckoning that their "racial traits" 
of quickness and intelligence would stand the country in 
good stead. 

This division of opinion was indicative of the uncertainty 
of attitudes toward the Jews. In good faith, a restrictionist 
in Boston could ask Louis D. Brandeis to join in the anti- 
immigrant campaign. Whether the new conception of race, 
clearly intolerant as far as Latins and Slavs were concerned, 
was also strong enough to break down the old tolerance 
toward Jews was still a moot question. 

Imported Poisons, Part of the answer was supplied by 
contributions from abroad. American intellectual life had 
never been isolated from that of the Old World; and, with 
respect to ideas of race too, there was an important exchange 
of ideas. 

European racial thinking, closer to a medieval past, aimed 
clearly at the Jew, everywhere in the minority, and in some 
places still not endowed with the full rights of citizenship, 
Americans, informally, and through their government, had 
often protested when that anti-Semitism expressed itself in 
pogroms and in discriminatory measures. But the very 
waves of indignation thus aroused, familiarized the New 
World with the Old World's picture of the Jew. 

The Beiliss Case offered a signal example. When the age- 
old blood libel was raised by czarist agents, the whole civil- 
ized world was shocked and moved to protest. The publicity 
helped to secure the acquittal of the brickmaker of Kiev. But 
it also carried the libel to every corner of the United States 
and planted vicious seeds that would bear fruit in Georgia a 
few years later. 



IS 



AH too soon, the subtler intellectual expressions of that 
European prejudice found an audience on this side of the 
ocean. Three anti-Semitic theorists in particular were atten- 
tively read in the United States. The work of Ernest Renan 
had a poetic attraction that coated the bitter prejudices it 
contained. The writings of the Count Gobineau had a spu- 
rious appearance of scientific objectivity. And the massive 
volumes of Houston Stewart Chamberlain seemed to draw 
upon all the resources of modern scholarship for their argu- 
ments. These were the sources from which perilous miscon- 
ceptions flowed. 

From the works of Renan, Americans learned to think of 
a "Semitic spirit" constant through the ages, not subject to 
national and cultural influences and often hostile to them. 
From Gobineau and from his disciple, Lapouge, they ac- 
quired an acquaintance with the "Aryan" race, the presumed 
fount, since the origins of modern times, of all the elements 
of western civilization. Chamberlain supplied the synthesis; 
he laid down a scheme that interpreted all of modern history 
in terms of an elemental conflict between the "Aryan" and 
the Semite, between the forces of strength and weakness, of 
idealism and materialism, of nobility and servility. 

Directly and indirectly, these icjeas flowed into the cur- 
rents of American thought. They were by no means fully 
absorbed, or consciously accepted. But they left definable 
traces in the minds of thousands of Americans. For the way 
had already been cleared for the reception of these dogmas. 
Consciousness of color, product of reconstruction, of Orien- 
tal settlement, and of imperialism, and consciousness of 
nationality, product of immigration in an industrial era,, 
meshed with the doctrines of the European theorists. To- 
gether they produced an American racial ideology. 

An Ideology for Racism, By the time the first World War 



19 



added its own peculiar complexities to the problem, there 
was a noticeable though inchoate tendency generally to think 
in racial terms in the United States, and specifically to regard 
the Jews as a race apart. Furthermore, that trend had ac- 
quired an intellectual frame of reference and a good deal of 
its vocabulary from the innocent work of sociologists and 
anthropologists. For these thinkers, in pursuit of their own 
inquiries, blundered into a line of thought that was a godsend 
to the racist. 

Sociology is a discipline of recent origin in the United 
States. The earliest scholars who entered that field did so 
through an analysis of practical problems. That is, they 
were drawn to the subject by dealing with such questions as 
poverty, crime, housing, the family, and religion, in a con- 
crete way. They tended on the basis of these specific prob- 
lems to generalize concerning the nature of society and of 
social institutions. 

Anyone who studied poverty, crime, or housing in the 
United States in these years, could not help but notice that 
ethnic elements were important in those questions. Since 
immigrants and Negroes occupied the worst quarters in the 
great cities, and held the poorest paying jobs, they were 
particularly likely to become cases for the social workers and 
subjects of what the sociologist called social pathology. 

The student of those problems always faced the choice of 
deciding whether those ills were the products of the Ameri- 
can society in which these ethnic groups lived, or whether 
they were due to some innate weakness in the minority 
groups themselves. And since American social theorists were 
influenced by all the racist forces that played upon their 
contemporaries, all too many of these scholars preferred to 
see the source of the evil not in themselves but in others. 
Frederick A. Bushee, for instance, who was not the worst 



offender, could write as if the Italians, by nature, liked dirt 
and crowded quarters. 

Such interpretations were simplified by a free-and-easy 
use of statistics, which could be made to show ail sorts of 
correlations between immigrants and every social evil under 
the sun. The forty-two volume report of the United States 
Immigration Commission in 1911 was particularly reprehen- 
sible in this kind of sin because it was backed by the author- 
ity of the government. 

Most of the sociologists were also reformers. After ana- 
lyzing the diseases of the community, they went on to sug- 
gest remedies. They were in this respect followers of Lester 
Ward, often termed the founder of American sociology. 
From him they got the idea of social planning, the belief that 
natural forces should not be left to operate alone, but should 
be controlled by society. 

The immigrants and the Negroes often did not allow them- 
selves to be controlled toward ends they did not understand. 
Sometimes the concrete, visible favors of the party boss were 
more attractive than the reformers' future promises. Not 
infrequently the sociologists and social workers who started 
out to do good for the immigrant, ended up by hating him 
because he would not allow good to be done him. 

The ultimate extension of planning was eugenics; through 
that science one could plan a whole society in advance by the 
selection of the proper future parents. Combining the idea 
of eugenic selection and innate racial qualities, the great 
majority of American sociologists in the decade after 1910 
reached conclusions, disproved by subsequent research, that 
definitely marked certain ethnic groups, including the Jews, 
as inferior and unassimilable. In the ranks of those who 
wrote in this vein, were such progressive professors as John 
R. Commons, Edward A. Ross, and Henry Pratt Fairchild. 



20 



21 



Let Ross speak for the rest in his description of the "oxlike" 
immigrants: 

ten to twenty per cent are hirsute, lowbrowed, big faced 
persons of obviously low mentality. . . „ I have seen 
gatherings of foreigners in which narrowed sloping 
foreheads were the rule. The shortness and smallness 
of the crania were noticeable. ... In every face there 
was something wrong, . . » One might imagine a mali- 
cious jinn had amused himself by casting human beings 
in a set of skew molds discarded by the creator. 

These men would no doubt have denied that they were 
prejudiced; they only wrote and acted as if they were. Their 
words and deeds were taken as models by thousands of 
people influenced by the prestige of academic position and 
of scientific learning. That the professors thought they were 
being temperate and cautious was not virtue enough. For 
there were more popular writers ready to throw caution to 
the winds, who took up the same ideas and gave them more 
radical expression. 

Thus, in 1908 appears Alfred P. Schultz, who publishes a 
volume called Race or MongreL The contents are adequately 
paraphrased in the sub-title: a Theory that the Fall of Na- 
tions is Due to Intermarriage with Alien Stocks; . . . a Proph- 
ecy that America Will Sink to Early Decay Unless Immigra- 
tion is Rigorously Restricted. Among the ''alien stocks" 
that threaten "Aryan purity" in the United States were the 
Jews. 

Eight years later, the masterpiece of this school, Madison 
Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, sees the light of day. 
This work which passed through edition after edition proved 
to hundreds of thousands of horrified "Nordic" Americans 
that the purity of their great race had been contaminated by 
contact with inferior breeds, among them the Negroes, the 
Latins, and the Semite Jews, dwarfed in stature, twisted in 



22 



mentality, and ruthless in the pursuit of their own self, 
interest. 

When these ideas were repeated by Lothrop Stoddard in 
1920, from the point of view of the eugenist, and by B. J. 
Hendrick, in 1924, from the point of view of the historian, 
they added little that was new to the stock of prejudices. But 
the popularity of such books illustrated again the continued 
hold of this brand of racism upon the contemporary mind. 
In no small measure that hold was due to the fact that these 
notions passed current as science. In retrospect, it is amaz- 
ing to find how little American social scientists of that day 
saw that was objectionable in those ideas. The tragedy was 
that few academic sociologists could argue to the contrary; 
for almost all started with the same undemonstrable assump- 
tions about the nature of the biological differences among 
human beings. 

Through 1927-28 sociologists referred to "nationals" as if 
they were races. This racist approach can be traced in part 
to an inherited attitude toward "Blacks" and Indians, which 
was part of our seventeenth and eighteenth century tradi- 
tion. It is true that this attitude received competition from 
the inherent American ideals which culminated in the Civil 
War, but the earlier racist tradition was then fed a genera- 
tion or so later by a new set of circumstances which were 
reflected in the social sciences, in American imperialism 
after the Spanish-American War, and in the slavish follow- 
ing of European racists by their American imitators. 

Like other Americans, these men lived in a society of rad- 
ical changes, a society which rendered them peculiarly sus- 
ceptible to racist influences, imported and indigenous. And 
the very fact that their work reflected these currents of the 
times gave the ideology they elaborated a wide popular 
audience. 



23 



XJ Y 1920, a full-fledged racial ideology colored the think- 
ing of many Americans. The conquest of opinion was by 
no means complete; the traditional American attitude of 
tolerance still acted as a brake upon the headlong sweep of 
these new ideas. What was ominous was the support the 
ideas received from occasional incidents at the practical 
level. 

Significantly, in practice, as in the theory, the Jews were 
not alone singled out. The racist found equally his enemies 
■ all the colored peoples, the Latins, and the Slavs. If the Jews 
were often the first to draw fire, that was because local 
circumstances sometimes made them the most prominent 
targets. 

The Pattern of Exclusion. Social mobility has always 
been an important characteristic of the American scheme 
for living. A great deal of freedom in the economic structure 
has made room for the free play of talents and has permitted 
newcomers to make their way from the lower to the higher 
rungs in the occupational ladder. In the absence of an 
hereditary aristocracy, social position has generally accom- 
panied economic position. 

Those who occupied the higher places of course always 
resented the competition from those who climbed out of the 
lower places. More than a hundred years ago, newspapers 
were already carrying the injunction over their help-wanted 
ads, "No Irish Need Apply!" 

But the democratic nature of American society made it 



24 



difficult permanently to establish such barriers. In the nine- 
teenth century these artificial restraints had always broken 
down beneath the pressure of the necessity for cooperation 
at all levels in the community. Furthermore constant ex- 
pansion in the economic and social structure of the nation 
made room for newcomers without lowering the position 
of those already well established. In fact, it often happened 
that a rise in the level of the immigrants and their children 
lifted even higher the positions of all those above them. 

The earliest encounters of the Jews with this feature of 
the American social system were not unlike those of members 
of other ethnic groups who passed through the same process. 
In adjusting to the American economy, some groups moved 
upward much more rapidly than others. The Jews were 
among those who advanced most quickly in earning power 
and in social position. Their special difficulties arose from 
the circumstance that they seemed singularly to rise faster 
than other peoples of recent immigration origin. This suc- 
cess in mobility came at a time when the earlier immigrant 
groups of the later eighteenth and early nineteenth cen- 
turies had chosen to forget their own swift rise and extraor- 
dinary accumulation of the great fortunes characteristically 
found among them. 

All who mounted the economic ladder earned the resent- 
ment of the well-established; but, in their rapid climb, the 
Jews seemed interlopers, out of place, more often than 
earlier outsiders moving in the same direction. 

Economic power in America was usually enveloped in 
certain symbols of prestige and position — good family, 
membership in the appropriate churches and associations, 
residence in select districts, and participation in communal 
activities. Success by Jews was resented, not only because 
the success of every new arrival seemed to leave less room 
for those already entrenched, but also because success in 



25 



their case was not graced with the proper symbols, did not 
take the proper form. 

Furthermore, the rapidity of the climb heightened the 
sense of difference between Jews and non-Jews at the upper 
economic levels- Some Jews reached positions of economic 
power and influence within a single generation, a time- 
interval not long enough for adequate social adaptation. 
The contrast in behavior was therefore particularly notice- 
able. "High society" and its lowlier imitators, uncomfortable 
at the entrance of any newcomers, in the case of these, could 
ascribe its discomforts to the difference in manners rather 
than to an inherent unwillingness to make room for com- 
petitors. As in every manifestation of prejudice, the Jew 
was in the same category as other minorities discriminated 
against. But his exceptional mobility made him the more 
prominent and the more vulnerable target. 

Exclusion was first prominently expressed in areas that 
involved the use of leisure time facilities, that is, in vaca- 
tion places, in clubs, and in social groups of various kinds. 
Such activities, being less formalized than, say, the activi- 
ties of business or politics, were open to intimate personal 
contacts, and therefore felt the strangers' presence more 
sensitively. What is more, these activities involved the whole 
family. Unlike the office or the workshop, where each man 
could deal impersonally and almost anonymously with indi- 
viduals as individuals, the resort or dance drew in the mem- 
bers of his family and made him more conscious of ques- 
tions of background and origin. 

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, many places 
began to close their doors to Jews. The incident in Saratoga 
Springs in 1877 when Joseph Seligman was refused ac- 
commodations at the Grand Union Hotel was a dramatic 
precursor of a pattern that would become more familiar in 
succeeding decades. In the 1890's also appeared a large 



26 



number of hereditary prestige societies, which based their 
membership upon descent from eighteenth-century Amer- 
ican ancestors, and which had the effect of excluding most 
Jews as well as most other Americans, who were descended 
from immigrants who arrived after 1800* 

These social slights ultimately had an effect upon other 
activities, of course. To the extent that business and political 
contacts often were made within the realm of the club or 
society, those who were excluded from the club or society 
were automatically discriminated against. 

And soon that discrimination became more direct. After 
1910, as the sons of the immigrant Jews entered more keenly 
and more noticeably into competition for professional and 
white collar places in the American economic system, the 
weight of such prejudice became formal and more open. 
Newspaper advertisements began specifically to exclude 
Jews from consideration for certain positions. Access to 
many professions was arbitrarily if informally limited. 

Uneasily many Americans accepted this pattern of dis- 
crimination. Although not a few were still conscious enough 
of their heritage of freedom and equality to protest against 
the tendency, all too many, lulled by the racist justification 
of ineradicable differences, were disposed to acquiesce. The 
formation of the American Jewish Committee in 1906 and 
of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith in 1913 to 
fight these trends indicated a growing awareness of the 
seriousness of the problem. 

Georgia Blood Bath. What drew attention to the poten- 
tial menace of all these developments was a sudden eruption 
that displayed the ugly turn the forces of racism could take. 
Appropriately enough the eruption came in the South, the 
source of so much of the festering venom; and appropriately 
enough it came in the New, not the Old South, in industrial 
Atlanta rather than in the romantic plantation. 



27 



Among the disorganized masses of men thrown together 
in the American cities, seeming grievances with no hope 
of redress from "legal" channels often led to violent out- 
bursts of mob action* Many people did not trust their gov- 
ernments, were ready to believe that their police department 
and courts had sold out to special interests, and, under 
provocation, were willing to take direct action themselves* 

Distinctive minorities were particularly subject to violent 
reprisals when their actions seemed to run against the 
cherished patterns of the community, yet involved no clear 
infraction of the law. In the 1890's, Italians in New Orleans, 
and Irishmen in Boston had suffered the harsh effects of mob 
violence. 

In 1915 the blow fell upon Leo Frank, a Jewish resident 
of Atlanta, Georgia. Accused of the murder of a fourteen- 
year-old girl and convicted on the flimsiest grounds, he was 
taken from jail and lynched the day after the governor of 
the state had commuted his sentence. 

Many factors combined to draw the web of hatred around 
Frank's neck. He was a Northerner and an employer of labor, 
and earned a full share of mistrust on those grounds alone. 
As a Jew he inherited all the dislikes stirred up by the racist 
writers of the period, and also the murky suspicions about 
Jewish blood murders left over from agitation of the Beiliss 
case a few years earlier. Finally the indignation everywhere 
outside the state that followed his conviction, and the ulti- 
mate commutation of the sentence by the governor raised 
the suspicion that justice was being frustrated through the 
intercession of powerful hostile outsiders. Under skillful 
manipulation, these became the goads that prodded the 
mob into action. 

The manipulation came from Tom Watson. By 1913 this 
man had a long political career behind him. A sympathizer 
with the cause of the poor in his own region he had been 
prominent as a populist and as a leader in the progressive 



28 



movements at the turn of the century. But the years after 
1900 were a long series of frustrations not only, or not so 
much, in terms of personal ambitions, but in terms of the 
success of the program for which he fought. "The world is 
plunging Hellward," he complained. 

In common with many other men of his period, Watson 
blamed this deterioration upon the interference of outside 
interests. At first, his hostility focused upon the traditional 
objective of fundamentalist America, the Roman Catholic 
Church, and he engaged in a long, bitter campaign of vili- 
fication through his journals and books. 

But in practice as in theory, prejudice was not easily lim- 
ited to one group. The Frank case offered an alternative, 
and Watson transferred the identical arguments he was 
using against the Catholics to the Jews. He rallied his fol- 
lowers with the slogan that Frank must be executed to 
eliminate outside Jewish interference from Georgia, 

In an immediate sense, Watson was successful, Frank 
died and Watson himself rode to continued political power 
on the basis of his leadership in the anti-Semitic campaign. 
Local bitterness raised by the issue persisted for many years. 

Yet the very violence of the terms Watson used, the very 
barbarousness of the methods of his mob revolted the great 
mass of Americans outside his state. The rude gallows at 
Marietta, Georgia cast a sombre shadow across the land, a 
premonitory warning of what might develop. 

Then came the war, and the presence of an enemy from 
without, for a time, seemed to still internal dissensions. 
Jews contributed with their fellow citizens to the winning 
of the struggle, and their participation was officially recog- 
nized by the government through such agencies as the 
Jewish Welfare Board. What was more, the very slogans 
in terms of which the war was fought seemed to rebuke those 
who promoted intolerance at home. 



29 



THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAR, AND OF 
DEPRESSION 



XF the war brought peace, the peace unloosed the bitter 
passions of disappointment and betrayal. The outcome of 
the conflict was so different from the aims in terms of which 
sacrifices had been made that millions of Americans, feeling 
cheated, turned against the aims themselves. 

In the five years after the armistice, the United States 
seemed to wish to draw back into a chauvinistic isolation, 
to cut its ties with the rest of the world, and to forget not 
only the phrases but also the ideals that had sparked the 
war effort. Rejection of the League of Nations and the 
World Court, and the high tariff system were symptoms of 
this deep drive. 

Perhaps even more important, was the final reversal be- 
tween 1920 and 1924 of the historic immigration policy* 
In those years, the number of new entrants was not only 
cut drastically, but cut in terms of a crude racist philosophy 
that set up standards of desirability for all the pe6ple of the 
world, counting some high, some low, almost exactly as 
Madison Grant had counselled. 



30 






The consequences for the American social and economic 
system were drastic. With no more newcomers, expansion 
slackened, and before long there was a noticeable contrac- 
tion in the range of opportunities. Between 1920 and 1940, 
for instance, the number of practitioners in certain profes- 
sions remained almost stationary. That meant that compe- 
tition for the desirable places became sharper than ever. 
If the number of doctors did not grow, every new Jewish 
doctor deprived the son of a gentile of his place. 

In the 1920's almost every leading American college and 
university, formally or informally, adopted a quota system 
for Jewish students. Unofficial regulatory agencies made dif- 
ficult the way into almost every profession. In 1944 and 
1945, some representative groups in the fields of dentistry 
and psychiatry went so far as openly to propose a quota 
system in those fields. Everywhere, the difficulty of securing 
desirable employment constantly became more oppressive. 

In those years, too, the pattern of exclusion extended 
into the field of housing. Whole areas of many cities, 
through voluntary covenants of real estate owners, were 
abruptly closed to persons of "Hebrew descent," 

While these effects were still being felt, the depression 
after 1929 struck a blow at the stability of the American 
economy from which there was no recovery for almost a 
decade. Through the thirties, close to ten million unem- 
ployed men and their families lived by the insecure margin 
of public relief or of charity, and remained the prey of all 
sorts of demagogues ready to capitalize upon their fears. 

"The International Jew" Immediately after the first 
world war, the overt signs of hostility to the Jews centered 
on their "foreign" qualities. The xenophobia that seemed to 
seep into every corner of American life also affected the 
Jews, 



31 



r 



The most flamboyant preachers of 100 per cent American- 
ism were the members of the latter-day Ku Khix Klan. 
This obscure organization had started in the South shortly 
before the war. It assumed the title of the old Reconstruc- 
tion bands, made popular by a film that had just swept the 
country, D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. The new Klan 
operated first as a simple racket for fleecing the gullible 
through a fancy price on sheet-uniforms. But between 1920 
and 1925 the Order grew and spread, until it attained a 
membership of close to four million, heavily concentrated 
in the North, and particularly in the states of Oregon, Ohio, 
Indiana and Illinois. 

The Klan found its leading antagonist in the Pope; in that 
respect it fell into the tradition of confusing issues by iden- 
tifying Catholicism with internationalism. But it had hatred 
enough left over for the Jews, also touched by international 
affiliations, and for the Negroes who were vulnerable enough 
not to need a pretext. 

Undoubtedly the Kluxers were influenced in their anti- 
Semitism by the circulation, in this country, of the Protocols 
of the Elders of Zion. This evil little volume, an obvious 
forgery, that we now know was used by the Czarist secret 
police, purported to record the proceedings, in Prague, of 
a secret body, plotting to capture the world on behalf of 
international Jewry. That this flimsy story, so clearly fraudu- 
lent on the face of it, should pass through edition after 
edition, and find credence among thousands of well- 
intentioned, if uncritical, American citizens may seem 
amazing. It is perhaps a commentary upon the insecurity 
and uncertainty of the world in which they lived, a world 
in which truth was not separate from fiction and in which 
promise did lead to betrayal. 



32 



By 1928, however, people, no matter how insecure, were 
no longer likely to phrase their fears in terms of an inter- 
national menace to the United States. Disarmament treaties 
and the Kellogg Pact, after all, had made the nation safe from 
attack from without; prosperity kept it sound against attack 
from within. A token of this turn of events was the disin- 
tegration of the once powerful Klan. 

The Shadow of Hitlerism. The advent of the Nazis to 
power had a double effect. It was one of the disturbing ele- 
ments that upset the stability of Europe and of the world 
and that revived all the American fears of involvement in 
foreign quarrels. More directly, the accession of the Na- 
tional Socialists to power gave control of a sovereign govern- 
ment to a group that was aggressively interested in spread- 
ing anti-Semitic ideas throughout the world. 

Hitler's primary agents in this mission in the United 
States were German-Americans, rigidly organized. Large 
numbers of Germans, many veterans of the Kaiser's army, 
and many still imbued with national pride, had entered 
the United States in the 20's under the quota laws of 1920- 
1924 which had granted the Germans a high percentage of 
our immigration quota. 

Some of these people had early joined in patriotic societies 
such as the Teutonia; but these groups had been small in 
number and short in purse. After 1932 however, they had 
the support of agencies of the German government, from 
which they secured organizational leadership, funds, and a 
steady stream of propaganda to be spread through the 
United States. 

Many German-Americans were first drawn to these so- 
cieties through simple fraternal and nationalistic motives. 
But as the German government plunged ever deeper into 
the path of anti-Semitism to the horror of the rest of the 



33 



civilized world, defense of Germany tended to become de- 
fense of anti-Semitism. Before long it seemed the only way 
to uphold the good name of the Germans, wherever they 
were, was to stand by the Fatherland, to convince others 
that the Nazi persecution of the Jews was necessary to save 
western civilization from the menace of world Jewry. 

Hitler had not been in power for a year when the Amer- 
ican societies were reorganized and centralized in the Friends 
of the New Germany, later known as the German-American 
Bund. Under the successive leadership of Heinz Spank- 
noebel, Fritz GissibI, Fritz Kuhn, and Wilhelm Kunze, the 
Bund set itself the task of popularizing the doctrines of 
Hitler's new order. Through newspapers and books, in- 
spired from abroad, the stock libels about the Jews were 
given currency. Camps maintained the morale of the mem- 
bers, and public meetings served to infect outsiders. 

A great part of the early financial support for these ac- 
tivities came from the German government. In this respect, 
the Bund was a Nazi agency. In furthering Hitlerite objec- 
tives, it performed, on the direct operational level, the same 
function that was being performed, on a more respectable 
level, by George Sylvester Viereck and Flanders Hall. 

Elements of American Fascism. Hitler did not have to 
rely exclusively upon Germans to do his work for him in 
the United States. There were native tools at hand willing, 
for their own interests, to serve his purposes*. 

Among the insecure groups rendered more insecure by 
the depression were millions of men ready to be enlisted in 
a crusade, men awaiting some call to salvation. They wanted 
mostly something about which they could be enthusiastic, 
something in which they could believe, and which would 
bring the promise of security. Out of such cravings came 
the support for all sorts of new movements untouched by 



34 



any trace of anti-Semitism, the Townsend Plan, for example, 
or EPIC in California. 

It was significant that the vast majority of men who par- 
ticipated in such drives did not respond to bigoted appeals 
and labored to attain their economic ends without relying 
upon the support of group hatred. Yet in this inchoate mass 
of distressed people, a small proportion did respond to ap- 
peals that were clearly fascist in nature and that were often 
oriented around anti-Semitic programs. Between 1933 and 

1939 some hundred organizations, large and small, drew to- 
gether the Jew haters into a potentially dangerous force. 

There was no consistency to these groups, except their 
common confusion and inconsistency. While all were in- 
secure people, the sources of their insecurity were markedly 
diverse. 

There were some , for instance, who carried on in the 
spirit of the twenties, chauvinists, foes of the "international" 
Jew, striving for purity of the American race, hostile to any- 
thing alien. These people were most numerous in the South 
and Middle West, the old Klan territory. They were 
Protestants, often fundamentalist in religion, and terrified 
at the disappearance of an American way of life that had 
never existed. They joined William Dudley Pelley's Silver 
Shirts and the revived Klan, or became the audience of the 
Geralds (Smith and Winrod). 

Another fund of discontent was different in origin but 
similar in expression. The Catholics, particularly of the sec- 
ond and third generation, had the same economic difficulties 
as other marginal groups in the thirties, and emerged with 
the same feelings of insecurity, the same search for an 
alternative. But the Catholics had had a long history of 
experience with bigotry in the United States, and had 
reasons in plenty for distrusting this aspect of the American 



35 



spirit. Despite this, anti-Semitism made some headway 
among them. 

A leader in this movement was Father Charles E, CoughJin 
who had gained an enormous radio audience before 1936 by 
focusing his sermons on economic questions, and by support 
of the New Deal. Shortly after his break with President 
Roosevelt, he used his radio time and the columns of his 
newspaper, Social Justice, to attack the Jews, His stock in 
trade was the same international plot of communists and 
bankers to hand over the world to the Jews. In 1938, Father 
Coughlin's followers gathered into organizations which sub- 
sequently became the Christian Front. Among the leadership 
was Father Curran often referred to as Father Coughlin's 
Eastern Representative, John F. Cassidy and Francis P. 
Moran. The Christian Front not only spread the then current 
anti-Semitic propaganda, but also held provocative meetings. 
The war later drove such groups to cover. 

The diversity of the sources from which these anti- 
Semitic groups sprang helps to account for the fact that 
they were never able to unite, to eliminate conflicts among 
rival leaders, and to pool interests and support. While some 
of these organizations were able to draw upon substantial 
financial support from time to time, their total effects 
tended to cancel out each other. Most of them did not 
survive the war, which cast the suspicion of disloyalty upon 
them. 

They were not without effect however. Even in more re- 
spectable places there was, in the years before Pearl Harbor, 
an unprecedented willingness to raise the Jewish issue as 
such, in reference to politics and to international affairs. 
As the prospect of war became more real, month after month 
in 1941, many well-meaning people, committed to keeping 
the country neutral, succumbed to the temptation of using a 



36 









fictitious Jewish issue for their own ends. Men like Charles 
A. Lindbergh, and Senator Nye expressed themselves in 
terms that raised questions as to their motivations. 

It was shocking in 1933 to hear Congressman MacFadden 
of Pennsylvania use the halls of the Capitol as a sounding 
board for anti-Semitic charges. But eight years later, it was 
commonplace to find Congressmen Thorkelson and Rankin, 
in the boldest terms, ascribing American participation in the 
war of 1941 to nefarious Jewish influences. 



r 



% l c ff 



*v a. 



UyO. 



\AAi 



ntf*-s>-t^. 



37 




X O look at it now, an ugly stain appears upon the fabric 
of American society. The stain is out of harmony with the 
complexion of the whole fabric. It jars. It will not stay as 
it is. 

The stain was not always there. It was not woven in with 
the warp and woof of the cloth, but imposed later. How 
and why, we know. 

Still the cloth is no longer the same, and cannot stay as 
it is. Will the whole cloth be dyed to match the color of 
the stain? Or can we, in time, eradicate the stain, restore the 
original nature? A good deal depends upon the answer. 

"We know, properly speaking, no strangers. This is every 
person's country." Such was the boast of Americans a cen- 
tury and a half ago. Jews no less than others, no differently 
from others, found here their home. 

This tolerance, this open attitude toward new ideas and 
new influences was founded upon confidence. Americans 
believed in the destiny of their country and of its institu- 
tions. They knew they had nothing to fear save ignorance 
and fear. Who was their enemy when they were every man's 
friend? 



38 



Little more than fifty years ago, that confidence was 
shaken. There were men in the United States who no longer 
had faith in what the future might bring. And their fears 
bred dark and atavistic hatreds. 

The consequences have since unfolded before us — enough 
at home, the full length across the ocean. 

In this perspective, the problem seems simple. Do we 
have enough faith in America, once more to say, "We know, 
properly speaking, no strangers. This is every person's 
country." 






39 



Bowers, David F. 

FOREIGN INFLUENCES IN AMERICAN LIFE. ESSAYS AND 
CRITICAL BIBLIOGRAPHIES 

Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1944 

Broun, LI. and Britt, G. 

CHRISTIANS ONLY, A STUDY IN PREJUDICE 

Vanguard Press, New York, 1931 

Btyson, L., Finkelstetn, L. and Maclver, R. M. 

CONFLICTS OF POWER IN MODERN CULTURE 

Harper and Brothers, New York, 1947 

Curtiss, John S. 

AN APPRAISAL OF THE PROTOCOLS OF ZION 

Columbia University Prest f New York, 1942 

Levinger, Lee J. 

ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE UNITED STATES; ITS HISTORY 
AND CAUSES 

Block Publishing Co., New York, 1925 

Livingston, Sigtnund 

MUST MEN HATE? 

Crane Press, Cleveland, 1944 

Maclver, R- M. 

THE MORE PERFECT UNION 

MacMillan Company, New York, 1948 

Mecklin, J. M, 

THE KV KLUX KLAN: A STUDY OF THE AMERICAN MIND 

Harcourt Brace and Company, New York, 1943 

Myers, Gustavus 

HISTORY OF BIGOTRY IN THE UNITED STATES 

Random House, New York, 1943 

Strong, Donald S. 

ORGANIZED ANTI-SEMITISM IN* AMERICA: THE RISE OF 
GROUP PREJUDICE DURING THE DECADE 1930-1940 

American Council on Public Affairs, Washin&lcn, D. C* 1941 



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